Bacchae Essay Research Paper In the Bacchae

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Bacchae Essay, Research Paper In the Bacchae, for whom do you feel more sympathy ? Pentheus or Dionysus? In the Bacchae, Pentheus and Dionysus have very different characters. They are both very complex characters and they both go through changes that alter the way you see them. At the beginning of the play, we are given a very dramatic image of Dionysus at his mothers, Semele?s monument. He is wearing a crown of ivy, carrying a thyrsus and wearing a fawn skin. It is a very mysterious and haunting scene. When Dionysus speaks he speaks angrily and passionately – you do not get the impression that he is a very subdued character. In contrast, however, when you first meet Pentheus you see him as a very proud man. He is outraged with the women of Thebes, he has a strict sense of

his own beliefs ? he simply cannot understand why the women are choosing to believe in a foreign god, an ? upstart god ?. He is instinctively sceptical. He believes that the women of Troy have left ?on some pretence of Bacchic worship?. He is so cynical he honestly cannot believe in the power of Bacchus. When we first meet the two adversaries face to face, we at first feel sympathy for Dionysus, for he is the prisoner. Pentheus starts the conversation thinking he has the upper hand because he has more power over the situation. However, it is clear to the audience that Dionysus is in control of the situation. He is calm and strong. He could have felt threatened, being in a king?s presence, but instead he acts confidently. This could have made me feel proud of Dionysus for handling

the situation so well; if it was not for the fact that he cruelly mocks Pentheus. Pentheus obviously has no idea that he is talking to a god, and Dionysus takes full advantage of this. Dionysus drops hints that he is not simply a Bacchic worshiper, but these are only obvious to the audience. Dionysus tells us that Dionysus is ?close at hand and sees what?s being done to me?. The audience can appreciate the subtly in this, but to Pentheus the man is just provoking him. I think that Pentheus is jealous of Dionysus? power over women, long curls and white skin. This would explain why he is so condescending to Dionysus. Pentheus does not want to believe that Dionysus is really the son of Zeus. I think that deep down he knows that he is and that is why he constantly needs to reassure

himself of his royal status. I think Dionysus is aware of Pentheus? jealousy and he uses this to his own advantage. We know that he can manipulate people, as he can make the guard feel guilty for simply bringing him before the king. I can sympathise with Pentheus because it is hard for him to understand this new, foreign cult, let alone accept it. He is a young and relatively new king and unused to his power, without having it questioned by a foreigner. He wants to assert his power and to be in control. He can not do this when being threatened by an eastern cult. I do disagree, however, with the way Pentheus tries to dictate Thebes – it should be up to the people of Thebes to make up their own minds as to their beliefs. If they want to believe that Dionysus is the son of Zeus,

there is nothing Pentheus can do to change their minds. Pentheus is frightened by the way that the women are so sure of themselves, he does not like the way they are suddenly at ease with nature. What he does not realise is that Dionysus does not want the women to completely abandon themselves to nature, but just to recognise his importance and the importance of his worship. There are many qualities that make Dionysus a strong god, he is very wise and helps the people to forget their suffering by procuring wine. He is also a prophet and can enable people to see their future. Dionysus is often blamed for his female followers being unchaste and without morals. I do not think that this is a fair accusation, as he does not make them act immoral. If they do, then they are already